Posted in Book reviews

“Cameo Courtships” – Barbour Publishing Collection Book Review

 

“Cameo Courtships” by Susanne Dietze, Debra E. Marvin, Jennifer Uhlarik, and Kathleen Y’Barbo

Novella collection

Review copy through author

My Rating: 4.5 out of 5 Stars

 

 

About the book:

Image result for cameo courtships by susanne dietz

A Family Heirloom Inspires Romance
In 1851, a special cameo is gifted by Queen Victoria to Letitia Newton, who though considered an old maid, meets the perfect gentleman minutes after donning. Told by the Queen the cameo is to be shared, Letitia gifts the “Victoria Cameo” to a woman in her family, hoping adventure and romance will follow each of its subsequent wearers.

PINNED ABOVE HER HEART by Susanne Dietze
1851 – Pittsburgh, PA
After receiving the Victoria Cameo, aspiring journalist Clara Newton works to expose a smuggler, but reporter Byron Breaux must break the story first or lose his job. Working together is out of the question until they learn secrets that threaten Clara’s father. . .and her heart.

TAMING PETRA by Jennifer Uhlarik
1875 – Colorado Territory
Trouser-wearing frontierswoman Petra Jayne Hollingsworth has no intention of donning the heirloom cameo, but when a crooked brothel owner steals the treasure, securing its return becomes Petra’s highest priority. Assisting her, Reverend Dustin Owens is appalled to learn the price of its ransom is that Petra must work in the brothel. He may save the woman’s virtue, but can he help Petra regain her cameo and rediscover her faith?

MEET ME AT THE FAIR by Kathleen Y’Barbo
Spring 1885 – New Orleans during the 1884 World’s Fair and Cotton Exposition
It takes a Pinkerton to find a Pinkerton, and Ethan Butler has been charged with finding Elizabeth Newton. Just when he locates her, the cameo he is to deliver is stolen. It appears his previous case has discovered his presence in New Orleans, but he can’t return to that case until the cameo is found. With Miss Newton as a reluctant partner in crime fighting, can Ethan Butler locate the cameo and its thieves without losing his heart?

LENDING MY HEART by Debra E. Marvin
1895 – Pittsburgh, PA
The arrival of a handsome Scottish administrator ruins Miss Bertie Hart’s dream to oversee the new Carnegie Library children’s department. Yet bristly Mr. Russell Smart’s working-class determination and his love of books make him the perfect partner to better the lives of Pittsburgh’s poor. As for a partner in life? Not even her Victoria Cameo can narrow the social chasm he and her father keep between them.

 

 

My Thoughts:

 

This is such a beautiful collection! First off, the cover is delightfully gorgeous. One you definitely ought to hold in your hands to properly enjoy. ;) I love that the front cover opens to reveal a wider image – so pretty.
The inside stories are delightful as well! Each unique and special in their own right. It starts out with a prologue, showing us how the treasured cameo came to be, and then the first novella starts right away after – and it was so lovely! A perfect beginning for this collection. Main character, Clara, in “Pinned Above Her heart” was so soft-hearted, and Byron was such a great mix of a strong and gentle hero. The faith message in this first novella was refreshingly sweet and I loved how important it was to the story!
The second novel, “Taming Petra”, was full of adventure and danger. I loved the main characters name – Petra. So unique and pretty. This story was a Western and it was fun to see how it unfolded. The faith message wasn’t as strong in the second novella, even though the hero was a Reverend. The message was still present, just more underscored than the first story.
The third novella, “Meet Me at the Fair:, brought mystery and intrigue. The romance was very sweet and the history fascinating! This novella was clean and enjoyable, though there was no message of faith included which I was rather bummed about. However, it was an engaging story.
And the last novella, “Lending My Heart”, was so lovely, with spirited characters and a sweet plot! How its own prologue started out… I was immediately drawn in and the story indeed captured me! Main characters, Bertie (Roberta!) and Russel find themselves at odds upon first meeting, but their relationship is so endearing to watch, and the truths they discovered about themselves were very lovely as well. At one point, Bertie was attending church and the sermon given was beautiful and meaningful. I appreciated that, and really liked seeing how it affected and worked into the character’s lives! (Also must note that of course I loved Russel. He’s Scottish. ;))
The collection comes to a conclusion with an epilogue, bringing all the characters together, and that was such a nice touch, a sweet ending. All in all a beautiful collection. For me personally, the first and last stories were my favorites!
Quotes:
“Lord, help me. I don’t want to be hurt again, but my heart is as open to him as it was four years ago. That’s why I’m watching for him, isn’t it?” – Pinned Above Her Heart by Susanne Dietze
“Even nicer would be praise for her efforts and accompishments. What was the point of a lovely coif if her brain deserved no regard?” – Lending My Heart by Debra Marvin
“All else disappeared, but he continued toward her {Bertie} and his makeshift office as if it wasn’t unusual to have visitors. As if she’d been the last thing on his mind. If he could avoide falling victim to those eyes, he might manage his way through telling her his decision.” – Lending My Heart by Debra Marvin
“Roberta Hart was confident and skilled, yet he found himself overwhelmed by the desire to take her sadness, to offer her his shoulder. To be someone she turned to in need. Clearly a thought he must banish.” – Lending My Heart by Debra Marvin
“I know Miss Hart. She…” What? She’s my cousin? She’s my assistant? She’s made a mess of everything I’m working for because, like Mr. Darcy, I have fought feelings for her since the first moment we met?” – Lending My Heart by Debra Marvin

 

 

Posted in Book reviews

The Backcountry Brides Novella Collection ~ My review

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Authors:

 Angela K CouchDebra E MarvinShannon McNearGabrielle Meyer Carrie Fancett Pagels ,Jennifer Hudson Taylor Pegg Thomas Denise Weimer 

 

Review copy from author Debra E. Marvin – thank you!!

 

My Rating: 4.5 out of 5 Stars

 

 

About:

 

Love on Colonial America’s Frontier

Travel into Colonial America where eight women seek love, but they each know a future husband requires the necessary skills to survive in the backcountry. Living in areas exposed to nature’s ferocity, prone to Indian attack, and cut off from regular supplies, can hearts overcome the dangers to find lasting love?

Shenandoah Hearts by Carrie Fancett Pagels
1754 – Great Wagon Road, into the Shenandoah Valley (Virginia)
As the French-Indian War commences, Magda Sehler wonders if Jacob Owens lost his mind to have abandoned his Philadelphia business and moved to the Shenandoah Valley. Or has he lost his heart?

Heart of Nantahala by Jennifer Hudson Taylor
1757 – (North Carolina)
Joseph Gregory plans to buy a lumber mill, but Mabel Walker becomes a formidable opponent. When she’s forced to make a painful decision, she must choose between survival and love.

Her Redcoat by Pegg Thomas
1763 – Fort Michilimackinac (Michigan) during Pontiac’s Rebellion
Laurette Pettigrew grew up in the northern frontier. Henry Bedlow arrived against his will. Their chance meeting changes everything. Will a deadly clash of cultures keep them from finding happiness?

A Heart So Tender by Debra E. Marvin
1764 – (New York)
As thousands of Native warriors converge on Fort Niagara, jaded British Lieutenant Archibald Walsh and idealistic schoolmistress Susannah Kimball learn the greatest risk lies in guarding their hearts.

A Worthy Groom by Angela K. Couch
1771 – Sapling Grove settlement on the Holston River (Tennessee)
The Cowden temper has been Marcus’s lifelong bane. A trait Lorinda Cowden curses. Now, winning the heart of his bride hinges on fighting a war without raising a fist.

Across Three Autumns by Denise Weimer
1778-1780 – (Georgia)
Fighting Loyalists and Indians, Jenny White settles for strength over love . . .until Scottish scout Caylan McIntosh leads her family on a harrowing exodus out of Georgia’s Revolutionary “Hornet’s Nest.”

The Counterfeit Tory by Shannon McNear
1781 – (South Carolina)
Tasked with infiltrating an infamous Tory gang, Jed Wheeler has no wish to endanger the leader’s cousin, Lizzy Cunningham. He risks not only his life. . .but his heart.

Love’s Undoing by Gabrielle Meyer
1792 – Fur Post on the Upper Mississippi River (Minnesota)
When Englishman Henry Kingsley meets Abi McCrea, the daughter of a Scottish fur trader and Indian mother, will their worlds keep them apart, or have they finally found somewhere they truly belong?

 

 

My Review:

 
 
I love how beautiful these Novella Collections are! I own several and have found they make beautiful decorations ;)
But besides being beautiful on the outside, they are lovely on the inside too – particularly this collection! Below are my reviews for the ones I’ve read so far, and I will add the rest to goodreads as I read them! :)
 
 
 
Shenendoah Hearts by Carrie Facet Pagels 
 
The beginning was interesting, and it seems like I’d like the characters, but as I continued to read, I had a hard time connecting to the story. I felt like it jumped around a lot, but that could very well just be me. So while I didn’t connect to this story, I don’t think that means others won’t – it could’ve been the mood I was in, timing, etc. and I may revisit the story in the future. :)
 
 
Her Redcoat by Pegg Thomas  
Giving vivid imagery and character-depth, it was easy to fall right into the pages of this short story. We’re at once sympathetic to Laurette and her dislike of being alone after her father’s instruction to keep her safe, and how can you not like Henry’s noble-spirit? He’s a gentlemen for certain. Watching their relationship begin and grow was delightful. I also liked seeing Laurette’s relationship with her Indian friends, and how that influenced her too, in good ways. And yet how she felt she didn’t belong there either – for she worshipped the One True God.
I would’ve liked a bit more scenes for the end – a lengthier ending, but I do understand that it is a novella, and they can’t be full-sized novels no matter what I say. ;)
 
 
 
A Heart So Tender by Debra Marvin: 
 
This was a sweet novella! The hero, Arch Waters kind of gave off a slight “Mr Thornton” (played by Richard Armitage of course) feel – can’t complain there ;) I very much liked heroine Susannah. She really had such a sweet and caring heart and attitude. The romance was a pretty quick one without a lot of in-between moments, but I wanted the two together, so again – I am not complaining. Arch needed a woman like Susannah to soften him up, and she needed someone like Arch to lead, guide, and protect her. A lovely match indeed!
Being a novella, there were parts that could’ve been expounded on but are easily understandable as it is. If you’ve read any of my reviews, you’ll know I love a good, long, indepth story, but this novella was well-written, and I enjoyed it!
 
 
Loves Undoing by Gabrielle Meyer  
Really enjoyed this story! I loved that it was set in Minnesota. :) And in Winter.   In reading it, you could almost feel the winter wind knocking at the door. Each character was well constructed and portrayed in this small novella, and relatable. I was impressed with everything that occurred smoothly in a short amount of time. There was definitely a moment or two where there was a little tension, but that’s the good thing about novella’s – you know it’ll be resolved sooner than a normal novel. :D
A good conclusion to this collection.
Posted in Book reviews

Book Review: The Case of the Clobbered Cad by Debra E. Marvin

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“The Case of the Clobbered Cad” by Debra E. Marvin

A Nosy Parkers Mystery

 

Review copy provided by the author

My Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

 

 

About the Book:   Inspired by the famous Girl Detective, the members of the Olentangy Heights Girls’ Detective Society, affectionately known as the Nosy Parkers, spent their formative years studying criminology, codes, and capers. Unfortunately, opportunities to put their unique skills to work were thin on the ground in the post-war boom of their little corner of suburbia and they eventually grew up to pursue more sensible careers. Until… Heather Munro’s youthful devotion to The Girl Detective led to a passion for digging around in history. Now pursuing her Master’s Degree in Celtic Studies, Heather must balance exploring Edinburgh with her determination to excel in her all–male classes at the University. Unfortunately, on her first night working in the Archives room, she discovers the dead body of a visiting professor, the same would-be lothario she’d hoped never to see again. As clues come to light, it’s clear someone hopes to frame Heather for the murder. Besides her quirky landlady, whom can she trust? How can she clear her name? The police and the American Consul have plenty of suspects, but only two seem to have both motive and opportunity: Heather and the quiet Scottish historian she longs to trust.

 

 

My Thoughts: 

Oh my word, this was such a delightful read! I was swept away the moment I started it. It was just charming! I know, how can a “murder mystery” be charming, right? But just read “The Case of the Clobbered Cad” yourself and find out!
This book has a darling cover, and a fantastic setting. 1956 Scotland – yes please! Main character, Heather Munro, is American spending time in Scotland as she studies. But she doesn’t find time for boredom – right off starts her in the midst of a murder, and a mysterious one at that, with her being a possible suspect – yikes!
Very well-written and captivating, with very pleasant characters. And I didn’t guess the murder till the end, which is always more enjoyable, to be kept in a bit of suspense. :)
I’ve enjoyed each story I’ve read by Debra, but this might just be my favourite. I already would like to read it again.
CCC was a clean book, with a couple mentions of faith. It wasn’t the main point of this novel, but the book was still extremely enjoyable, and I appreciated the few mentions of prayer and the Lord. :)
If you enjoy mystery novels, or BBC mysteries, or really just a great read, be sure to pick up a copy of “The Case of The Clobbered Cad”!

 

Posted in Book reviews

Book Review: Saguaro Sunset by Debra Marvin

Saguaro Sunset (American State Flower novella Book 32) by [Marvin, Debra E.]

“Saguaro Sunsent” by Debra E. Marvin

I won a copy from the author

My Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

 

About the Book:

No ice cream sandwich is as sweet as a long-delayed sunset kiss.

Friday night’s first phone call was the answer to Teresa Scott’s career dreams. Before she can celebrate, a second call informs her of her sister’s accident and puts Teresa in ‘the driver’s seat’ of Frosty Fingers Food Truck during the Tucson Festival of Books. Determined to keep her sister’s business out of the red, Teresa hides the painful disappointment of giving up her dream.

Fellow accountant Alan Davis sticks his do-gooder nose in, hanging around to help Teresa, the woman he’s adored since forever, not knowing the coveted board position he’s just accepted is the one she had to give up.

Nice Guy Alan isn’t really Teresa’s type, but she’s won over by his humor, adorable smile, and ice cream scooping skills. As his presence become irreplaceable, she sheds the hardened layers of her heart. Just when it’s clear she needs him in her life, Alan has to face his biggest regret and honor an old promise. Will losing this chivalrous knight in a snowman costume break Teresa’s vulnerable heart?

My Thoughts:

I can count on finding a good novella when it’s written by Debra Marvin. I’ve read three of hers so far, and have enjoyed each one. Usually, I’m a novel kind of gal, but I enjoy novella’s for a break – and Debra writes some good ones. :)
This was her first contemporary, and she handled it fantastically in my opinion!
The setting was unique – I don’t think I’ve ever read a book where the character runs (or in this case, helps run) an ice cream food truck! I found that a great setting – one to stand out. And the characters were each well-constructed and you got to know them even in a ‘short’ amount of time of a novella.
I enjoyed the splash of faith too.
There was one scene towards the end that was a bit more…passionate (just kissing) than I usually read, but otherwise, I didn’t skim any of the book – it was a good, sweet read, one I enjoyed. :)

Posted in Book reviews

Book Review: “Why Not?” By Debra E. Marvin

Why Not (A Valentine Matchmaker novella)

 

“Why Not?” by Debra E. Marvin

Part of the Novella Collection: “Valentine MatchMakers”

My rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

 

About the book:

Love Puts These Two On the Edge!

Grand Canyon, 1914

Society girl Amber Wynott’s wintry escape to the Grand Canyon provides a chance to pursue her dream and prove she has what it takes to be a successful architect. It doesn’t take long to realize the incredible scenery can’t hide the simmering anger between ‘railroad money’ and the struggling locals.

Which side is master builder Stone Morrison on?

Amber has met her match in the handsome, hard-headed man. He’s been directed to keep an eye on her, but when iron meets iron—oh the sparks! As their unlikely old matchmaker tells them, pride goes before a fall, and this is a bad place to fall. Will danger finally knock some sense into the pair?

 

 

My thoughts:

 

A very cute little romance story – perfect for a Valentines Day read, as the collection promotes!
Amber and Stone both had very strong personalities, but blended really well together without diminishing the other one – that was pretty impressive. Usually when I read about a strong female lead, the man becomes less of a…well, a man, and backs down, losing his strong personality, but even though Amber was independent, she still came to rely upon him, and he didn’t back down, but also didn’t demean her either. It was a good match.
There was also a bit of mystery involved – always a fun thread to keep up with.
I think it would’ve been fun to have a bit more backstory – because it was a novella, it at times was a tiny bit rushed and I would’ve liked to get to know the characters more, but it was still a good read and well put-together. The romance was sweet, and you were rooting for the characters from the start. :)
The setting was fascinating, too – the Grand Canyon in 1914. And the unrest at the time – all very interesting! I enjoyed the touches this brought to the story.
So yes, a quick but enjoyable read. :)
I received a complimentary ecopy from the author. All thoughts are my own.